In a virtual awards ceremony, Red Pole Park, a larger-than-life interactive public art installation in the Southfield City Centre was recognized by the Michigan Chapter of the American Association for Landscape Architects (ASLA). The recognition took place in the virtual State of the Chapter and Awards Ceremony.
The General Design Merit Award was presented by ASLA President Wendy Miller to Landscape Architects Mijung Ko, ASLA, PLA, LEED GA and Mark Hieber, ASLA, LEED AP, Principal at HED, a national architecture and engineering firm with a local office in Southfield, that was retained by the Southfield City Centre to design the first phase of a shared use pathway system and this environmental art feature as a centerpiece for community engagement.
“This design award is a nod toward the power of landscape, in all its forms, to enhance the positive perception of ‘Place,'” said Hieber. “It is the result of a broad vision by the City of Southfield and its planning department to advance Southfield toward a more walkable and bikeable city.”
Hieber graciously recognized the partnership with the City of Southfield and Director of Planning, Terry Croad, AICP, ASLA, also a member of the Michigan Chapter of ASLA.
“We want to congratulate Mijung and Mark for working on this exciting project,” said Croad. “This was a goat path before the pathway went in and Mark and his design team created a series of outdoor rooms. This was built not along a river or an old rail-to-trail, but a freeway that has 110,000 cars that go by it every day.”
Recognized as “monumental and memorable”
The award is significant in that it was adjudicated by the Iowa Chapter of ASLA, rather than by a local panel. The jury said, “The creative solution and innovative approach to using existing utility infrastructure not only pushed the design further but worked within the limited budget.
The buzz this project generated is very exciting and not surprising considering its unique, monumental and memorable quality. This project shows what can happen when the role of the landscape architect is expanded beyond the traditional definition.”
Consisting of 65 red poles, each 35-feet tall, the installation intersects the extra-wide shared-use path at a segment of the Southfield City Centre Trail visible to the vehicles that traverse the Lodge Freeway each day. Red Pole Park represents the past, present and future of civic mindfulness in Southfield, with special historical recognition for past generations and founders of Southfield, as well as the growth and development of civic leaders yet to come.
At night, the tallest of the poles are lit with twinkling blue lights, which signal safe harbor, much like Michigan’s many beautiful and historic lighthouses. Walkers, runners and cyclists on the Trail can interact with the poles, which are home among native wildflowers, trees and unique birdhouses.
“We felt that we needed something bold and exciting to get people’s attention and it has done that and more,” said Croad during the awards ceremony. “It was the first piece of a 2.25-mile trail that has continued to be expanded on along M-10 the Lodge through the city of Southfield. We want to congratulate HED for our partnership with the city on this project that has been a catalyst to a number of redevelopments along this corridor including a new North American headquarters for Clarience Technologies, a convention center, two new hotels and expansion at Lawrence Tech University.”
Creative…and creatively funded
As unique in its design is the story behind how Red Pole Park came to be. Sparked by the generosity of 3,665 sponsors in a 2017 Patronicity crowdfunding campaign, the funding was matched by a grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Public Spaces, Community Places funding initiative.
Installed in 2018 and dedicated in a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 22, 2018, the park is located directly on the Southfield City Centre Trail along the Northwestern Highway service drive, just north of Civic Center Drive and is accessible on foot year-round. Red Pole Park is just one of several art installations available along the Southfield City Centre Trail and within the district.